Pearce, Charles Maresco (1874-1964) by Scholes, Robert

Charles Maresco Pearce (1874 – 1964) We know that the Tate acquired a painting after Pearce’s death in lieu of death taxes, in either 1964 or 1965. He was, among other things, a painter of landscapes, but we are currently still searching for more information about him and images of his work. Gauguin Gerda Flöckinger C.B.E. has generously provided the following information about the Pearce household (from a letter to the MJP dated April 7, 2004): “I began to study design and making of Jewellery at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now Central St. Martin’s) in London in October 1952. Naomi Pearce joined this class sometime in 1953, I think, and we slowly became friends. At some point she invited me to have tea at her house which I did, only to be struck entirely speechless when I saw the incredible collection of paintings and beautiful objects which filled the beautiful Chelsea family house (designed by Halsey Ricardo for his daughter Anna – Naomi’s mother – and Maresco when they married). I had thought at first – in the way of people I had known – that the paintings were the usual reproductions with maybe one or two paintings amongst them, but I realised suddenly that I was in the company of a great deal of real Art – Vuillard, Bonnard, a Gauguin design for a fan, the Brittany landscape over the sideboard,other paintings, paintings by Maresco, a small Maillol terracotta figure on the mantelpiece, Gimson and other important furniture, William Morris chairs, De Morgan tiles, de Morgan vases, Michael Cardew pots, other ceramics, Japanese woodcut prints – in profusion – yet nothing was crowded and absolutely everything was beautiful in its particular placing. The curtains of the rooms were the original William Morris fabrics from the Morris shop, probably by that time somewhat faded, but nevertheless beautiful and in wonderful relationship with the totality of that house. I could not speak at all after these realisations, I became much too shy. I had come to England in 1938, from a small town in the Tyrol, I had never been so close to such treasures in my whole life. I suppose that Naomi must have taken all these things for granted as she must have been familiar with them her whole life. I eventually recovered and got to know the family better. But however accustomed I became to visiting the house, both the idea and the reality of sitting opposite the Gauguin either at lunch or supper, remained a totally extraordinary experience for me and never lost its impact. At that time Maresco usually spent the mornings and afternoons working in his large studio at the top of the house, Naomi was still living at home, her brothers and sisters had married and had their own homes by the time I met her. The house life was extremely pleasant and comfortable, and on Fridays after lunch at Church Street, (prepared by the London housekeeper) a taxi came and took everyone to Victoria Station to take the train to Pulborough in Sussex, where another taxi was waiting to drive everyone to the house in Graffham, where the Graffham housekeeper was waiting with tea. The same procedure was followed the other way about on the Monday for the return. I was very fortunate sometimes to have been included in these weekends. The Graffham ‘Carpenters Town’ – house was extremely nice, (a wing of it added by Halsey Ricardo at some point, a drawing room with Naomi’s parents’ bedroom above, and a studio in the garden for Maresco, very pretty and very idyllic) also with paintings, I think more of Maresco’s, though also Bussy and some of the de Morgan tiles and pieces. It is now close on forty years since I saw the Graffham house in its earlier phase (Naomi took it on after Maresco’s death as part of her share of the family things and changed it quite a lot). I find it impossible to remember now exactly what was where and how it looked. I know that Maresco had painted the door of a cupboard in the Day Nursery, all four panels, with a different image on each panel and which Naomi’s nephew has now, and a snake painted on the hatch between the original kitchen and the Day Nursery which is actually still there with the present owners of the house. The gardens and woods and fields were quite large and always beautiful; by the time I saw the main garden it was tended mostly by Naomi and her mother. It was a beautiful and tranquil life. Everyone appeared to have their way of living and had enough room for it, there was privacy and all of it was incredibly civilised and wonderful. I have no memory of Maresco’s opinions on Art. I was much too shy and ignorant at the time to even know how to phrase such questions, either about the paintings in the collection, or about what Maresco was painting at that time when he must have been 79. I had no inkling Just how interesting and important a painter he actually was, and what a wonderful colourist: perhaps because there had at that time been no real assessment of his work. It took me time to learn to understand and more fully appreciate it. I was always attracted to it, but it has in any case taken me considerable time to learn what Art is and what is not though I have always been strongly attracted to it.” —Gerda Flöckinger The MJP would also like to thank Gerda Flöckinger for providing us with images of the following works by Pearce: , , , and . Concerning the last picture, Gerda notes that Verry’s stood at the corner of Regent and Hanover Street in London. Ornamental Garden Naomi Pearce and Anna Ricardo Still Life with Figurine Due Cortigiane, Probably in Verrey’s Cafe Special thanks also go out to Leanna Hollenbeck for allowing us to reproduce two pictures from her collection: and . Interested parties can reach Leanna at: 12 Waterfall Lane, Franklin, NC 28734; tel.: 704-877-4833; email: Monaco Town and Rock Montecarlo and Monaco from the Mentone Road

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